Where antibiotic resistant superbugs come from: biology explained at a "3d grade reading level"


Implante writes, "I'm a TA for a first year med school class and made this module on how antibiotics have driven the development of the MRSA 'superbug' that you hear about in the news. Nothing like making a module for medical students at a 3rd grade reading level. Enjoy!"

And enjoy I did! I had a general idea of how the antibiotic resistance arms-race worked, but watching this gave me a much clearer, sharper understanding -- including the curious and perverse reason that MRSA is endemic to hospitals but not the wider world (spoiler alert!).

Development of resistant Staphylococcus aureus over time (Thanks, Implante, via Submitterator)

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  1. This is completely awesome. Wish I would have seen it when I was in third grade…after all, if kids can learn by heart the names and characteristics of dinosaurs, why not do it with bacterias as well ?

  2. Good one, thank you. Condescension has a way of biting one in the ass, it can really set the person up for a fall. Then again, far be it from me from me from elevating 1rst year’s beyond a level they are comfortable with…gotta go I just got a huge pain in my ass.

  3. I don’t know if you saw my post asking for something like this in the soap/no-soap thread the other day. Either way, thank you!

  4. I’m all for clear teaching modules if nothing is lost in the process, but it’s a shame to realize that a 12th grade level explanation would probably be too much for some medical students.

  5. “the curious and perverse reason that MRSA is endemic to hospitals but not the wider world”

    Wouldn’t you thrive if all your competitors were wiped out and there was food everywhere?

  6. “the curious and perverse reason that MRSA is endemic to hospitals but not the wider world”

    Actually, at least in the US, we now have community-acquired MRSA, so this is incorrect.

  7. “I’m all for clear teaching modules if nothing is lost in the process, but it’s a shame to realize that a 12th grade level explanation would probably be too much for some medical students.”

    And how did you come to that realization? The very process of getting into medical school almost necessitates being able to read and understand advanced material. I find it hard to believe someone could sail through a “hard science” university program without ever being confronted with information presented at an advanced. The ability to comprehend what you read is, in fact, 1/3 of the medical college admissions test.

  8. biology explained at a “3d grade reading level”

    There’s finally some hope for me and biological understanding.

  9. This was really awesome!

    Back when there was a Bell Laboratories, one thing they made new employees do was take a writing course, because a fundamental part of our jobs was communicating with engineers, managers, installers, and various other people. One of the key points (besides “write like a journalist, not a grad student, be clear and direct, and put the interesting and important bits at the beginning so people can figure out whether to read the rest”) was that the more complex the topic you were discussing, the simpler your writing style should be, so it doesn’t distract from the parts that are supposed to be hard.

    And there were these new cool computerized tools for measuring writing complexity, so we could tell if we’d hit the target of a 10th-grade reading level for most material, or could dial it back to 8th-grade level for hard stuff, and save the 17th-grade sociology-grad-student writing style for papers we didn’t want anybody to actually read.

    3rd-grade style is perhaps a bit extreme (:-), but it got me past the eyes-glaze-over-TL;DR stage, and the limited content per slide meant I could actually page through in a couple of minutes.

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